Trump in a statement said former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio protected “the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85-years-old,” said Trump. “After more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (sic.) candidate for a presidential pardon.”
Arpaio last month was convicted of criminal contempt after he failed to obey a federal judge’s ruling to profile Latinos as part of his controversial campaign against undocumented immigrants. Arpaio, who lost his re-election bid last November, was scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5.
“Joe Arpaio must be held accountable for his long record of violating the civil rights of Maricopa County’s Latinx population, and carrying out a hate-filled agenda through extreme racial profiling,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhoff in a statement. “During his tenure, Arpaio has attacked nearly every marginalized community, including using anti-LGBTQ schemes to humiliate inmates at his ‘Tent City’ prison.”
Trump earlier this week suggested at a Phoenix rally that he was prepared to pardon Arpaio.
Friday’s announcement coincides with growing concern the Trump administration will not allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status programs that President Obama signed in 2012 to remain in place. Trump less than two hours before he pardoned Arpaio directed the Pentagon to implement a ban on transgender people in the military that he announced last month.
Trump pardoned Arpaio and directed the Pentagon to implement the trans servicemember ban hours before Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast with winds of 130 mph.
“Just before leaving for a long weekend at Camp David as a hurricane bears down on the Gulf Coast, Trump has barred transgender American heroes from serving in the military and pardoned a convicted racist on the same day,” Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur told the Los Angeles Blade in a statement. “These low appeals to hatred and un-American values, consistent with Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, confirm that his chaotic presidency is propped up by a malignant ideology of hate, racism, religious intolerance and homo- and transphobia.”
The Los Angeles Blade will have additional reaction from LGBT rights advocates as it becomes available.